Architect’s Attire in Retrospective
As an Embodiment of their Architecture
The expression of Architect’s Outfit has gone from the stereotypical black color scheme and thick frame glasses from the Le Corbusier’s limited wardrobe to the more casually yet suited blazer of current young architecture graduates. To study the origins of the Architect’s dress code, we look into the Architect’s dress code from the Renaissance to the pre-world war aristocratic period to the capitalist post world war and the colourful contemporaries, and to investigate what has really changed us?
Similar to the Mannerism in which its ideal in Art form is transpired among music, architecture, painting, and literature, the below comparison highlights the contrastingly evolutionary form of architect’s attire as a study of the Architect’s expression of their intangible architectural ideas.
(English Mannerism: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, 1546, a rare English Mannerist portrait by a Flemish immigrant. , Wendel Dietterlin (1550-1599), Parmigianino’s Madonna with the Long Neck (1534-40), John Currin’s contemporary painting’s rendered in a style characterized by distortion and elongation in Mannerism.)
Whilst not purporting architects to dress like their buildings to align their expressions in both architecture and fashion, fashion design and architecture have share similar line of thoughts and design method. However not all architects abide their fashion to architecture, and here we note some similarities between the 2 industries.
Architects dressed as their most famous buildings: Ely Jacques Kahn (Squibb Building), William Van Alen (Chrysler Building), Ralph Walker (1 Wall Street) at the 1931 Beaux-Arts Architects annual ball
(Elke Walter’ dress on Zaha Hadid, photo by MARCO GROB FOR TIME, Heydar Aliyev Center, Baku, Azerbaijan)
(Fashion Walkway vs Architecture)
The black/white/grey combination has be prominently used as a symbol for Architect’s wardrobe. In color psychology, Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil.
Dressed like Dracula, the architects of the renaissance are the patronage of the church. The tradition of black attire was passes down in the form of renaissance robe to the 19th century suit to the contemporary T shirt. Nonetheless the colour selection of black continues though there were some deviation most notable by Mike Davies and Peter Zumthor.
(The Architect’s Fashion Chart)
In years to come it is with much obscurity to imagine the next fashion for Architects. Would we be heading to the goosy flamboyant of the Lady Gaga, or the top exposed horse riding Putin, or the uniform driven Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs?
No fear. Looking at the history of Architect’s attire from 5 centuries ago to the recent Pritzker Group photo, we are predicting the black suit will remains for centuries to come. The timely comparison of merely picking a black suit from the wardrobe to the time spent on designing architecture is insignificantly small. Marked by convention and conformity to customs, rules or styles, it becomes the Architect’s uniform.
(Front row, left to right: Carlos Jimenez, Lord Palumbo, Ryue Nishizawa, Cindy Pritzker, Kazuyo Sejima, Frank Gehry, Christian de Portzamparc, Glenn Murcutt.
Back row, left to right: Juhani Pallasmaa, Karen Stein, Rolf Fehlbaum, Jorge Silvetti Hans Hollein, Alejandro Aravena, Richard Meier, Thom Mayne, Cesar Pelli, Rafael Moneo (behind-Jan Utzon, representing Jorn Utzon) Richard Rogers, Jean Nouvel, Kevin Roche, Renzo Piano, Martha Thorne, Bill Lacy.)
The Creation of Architect’s image
Whilst we may easily find the conformist dressers transpired among young architectures seeking an image to represent themselves as a good candidate during job interview (interview impression is created in 7 second), this article highlights the architect’s dress code for our readers to avoid and follow. Discretion is advised.
(Graduates’ selected outfit for graduation, AA graduation ceremony, 2012)
Led by the senior conformists, the fresh graduates are left with limited options to express their creativity in their attire, and saving the creativity for architecture.
(Why Do Architects Wear Black? (2009) edited by Cordula Rau Springer Cloth, 228 pages)
This investigation was further written in the book above. This is the kind of book that will be given to an architect, rather than purchased by one for his or herself. So the next time you see an Architect wearing black, look him straight in the face and ask, why do architects wear black?